Back to the Mawr!

The past two weeks have involved a lot of readjusting back to my new life at Bryn Mawr. I have my classes all settled now so I’ll be taking: Self and Identity, Women’s Mental Health (which has a praxis component leading mental/social health workshops for teenage girls at the school across the street), Cultural Profiles Modern Exile, and Developmental Psychology. This is my first normal semester in over a year after taking a 360 and being abroad as well as my first time taking a 300 level course and three psychology classes at the same time. I am loving my classes so far though, they all inner connect and make me get super excited about the reading since I find the way we develop our selves and narratives in relation to our own mental health and ideas of a homeland, absolutely fascinating. I am hoping to write my thesis on a similar topic.

All settled into my room

Socially, it’s been so wonderful to finally be back in a community of people I care so much about. There’s no better feeling in the world than finally being reunited with someone you’ve missed so badly for such a long period of time. In some ways, it’s been hard because in some ways, I have to pretend like the last eight months didn’t happen since no one can really relate and I feel pretentious saying things like “Well this one time in [insert country]” but I also feel like a part of me is missing if I try and just pick up my life at Bryn Mawr the way it was when I left it May. Luckily, I have friends from throughout my journeys here at Bryn Mawr in case I ever want to reminisce and to help me through my transition back and for those who weren’t with me who continue to support me. I feel a sense of solidarity with every other junior who came back from abroad as we can relate to each other in our lack of knowledge of the new freshmen class and the feelings of independence and freedom we developed while in our respective countries. I feel like I can relate to and strike up conversations with people who I never may have talked to before.

Even just physically, being back at Bryn Mawr has been such a change. Instead of commuting an hour and a half to school each way, it’s less than a 15 minute walk for me to get anywhere on campus. The lack of commuting time has been filled up quickly however with classes and meetings for clubs. This semester I am involved in:

Customs Committee: A group of eight individuals who were selected by the SGA elected appointments committee to choose all of the customspeople, the sophomore mentors and resouces for a group of first years on a hall, for next year. We also plan customs week which is the orientation program for first year students. This year, we will also be having regular meetings with customspeople to check in with them and provide them with support throughout the year. We just held our information sessions and applications are due the day before Hell Week when we start reading like crazy and start having group interviews. Afterwards, we’ll be having individual interviews and then customspeople will find out the week after we get back from spring break. There’s going to be a lot of late nights but it’s always been my dream to play a major role in the customs experience: one of my favorite aspects of Bryn Mawr.

-Art Club: Art Club does the most of almost any club on campus: we stock Arnecliffe Studio with art supplies for students’ use, run weekly CreativiTEA’s (formally Community Art Night, 8 to 10 PM on Thursdays) where we do different art projects open to the entire campus and eat food, bring local artists in to teach non-credit art classes (subjects have ranged from everything to batik to screenpainting to jewlery making), plan a Student Art Exhibition every year on the 2nd floor on Canaday library, run a volunteer program teaching art classes at a local elementary school (which I coordinate by planning curriculum and managing volunteers), and plan a campus-wide event each semester with lots of food and crafts. This semester, I will be vice-president since our vice-president from last semester is going abroad to Germany and since I’ve been involved since I was a freshman. Haverford hosts the bi-co’s fine arts department so I’ve been very happy to be apart of Bryn Mawr’s only fine arts presence on campus.

-Civic Engagement Office: The Civic Engagement Office runs the academic and service based programs in the Greater Philadelphia area. They offer weekly programs mentoring youth at charter schools, preparing taxes in low-income areas, and matching clients with social services. I am one of the service and outreach coordinators so I plan bi-monthly service events to different community organizations for Bryn Mawr students to volunteer at in the Greater Philadelphia area. This year, we have formed a partnership with a women’s shelter in Philadelphia which I’m really excited about! Some of our past projects have included volunteering at community art centers, cheering athletes on at the Special Olympics, and helping paint the office of an animal shelter. This is one of my absolute favorite things that I do on campus because I get to paid to do what I love and act as an agent for positive social change (look at those buzzwords there–future employers: please hire me now?), especially since I’m seriously thinking about pursuing a career in the non-profit sector once I graduate.

-Admissions: I work as a tour guide and office assistant in the admissions office. It’s a lot of fun because I get to talk with prospective students and their families and tell them about all the reasons I love Bryn Mawr which is always a blast! I also love getting into the zone of filing things while chatting away with my fellow tour guides because they all have done such incredible things so there is always something interesting to talk about!

Hell family love: my hellee Monica and my grandhellee Bryce

Outside of my extracurricular activities and classes, I’ve been preparing for Hell Week, my favorite tradition that involves first years asking upperclassmen to “hell” them so they do lots of crazy things to push themselves out of their comfort zones and bond with the rest of the Bryn Mawr community, and trying to spend as much time with my friends as possible since many of them are graduating or going abroad at the end of this semester. Last weekend, my friends and I went to see one of my favorite movies The Perks of Being a Wallflower which was being hosted by Bryn Mawr. Afterwards, we went sledding on the fresh new snow on old dining hall trays which was perfect since although there was a lot of snow in Denmark, it’s so flat there that I couldn’t find any hills to sled on. Luckily Bryn Mawr’s name even translates to “Big Hill” so there are plenty of good spots to sled down! That Saturday, I hosted a welcome back party where my closest friends got together and we ate cheese and crackers and I was finally able to introduce the friends I met while I was abroad with my friends from freshman and sophomore year.

Traying down the hill by Rhoads (photo credit: Rebekah Adams '15)

This past weekend, my three friends and their hellees (one of which is my grandhellee), all went into the city for Restaurant Week, a foodie’s paradise where many of the best restaurants in Philadelphia offer a flat rate price for a three course meal. We decided to get sushi near Penn’s Landing which was so, so, so delicious though my wallet is extremely empty now… Afterwards, several of us got sundaes to share at Franklin Fountain, a Philly favorite for ice cream which has been featured on the Food Network.

1st course: crab cakes, 2nd course: 2 sushi rolls, 3rd course: tofu cheesecake

The next day, we went to the South Asian Women Culture show, which was amazing. So proud of all the hard work that went into it! There were so many talented dancers, singers, models, and performers, who all looked gorgeous in their saris. The show was followed by lots of delicious free Indian food which is always a highlight for me. That night, I hung out in my friends’ room which has a common room and just goofed out together and laughed at ridiculous things, which was exactly the kind of night I needed to remind me why I’m so happy to be back.

Mayuri, the South Asian fusion dance troupe, put on quite the show

My friend Yashaswini Singh '13 singing beautifully on stage

Blog post to come: more about Hell Week and some of the Hell Family traditions that have been passed down in my family!

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About Amanda Beardall

I am a senior psychology major (minoring in child and family studies and environmental studies) from Portland, Oregon. I am involved with the Civic Engagement Office, Art Club, admissions, dorm leadership, and teaching art classes at a local elementary school. I studied abroad in Denmark, did an internship in Indonesia, and took a 360 course cluster that traveled to Ghana.

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